5 Ways to support Newcomer Language Acquisition with Technology

February 20, 2019Melissa Sienko

One of the most rewarding parts of being an ESL teacher is working with our newcomers. Every newcomer is so different. Some arrive eager to jump in to whatever their class is doing. Others arrive too terrified to move. Partnering with their homeroom teacher, it’s my job to help them feel welcome, support second (or third! or fourth!) language acquisition, and provide resources for tackling grade-level content.

Using Nearpod makes this responsibility a bit less daunting. Here are 5 ways to support Newcomer language learners with technology

1. Make Newcomers Feel at Home

Nearpod helps me celebrate newcomers’ diverse life experiences. One of the first lessons I like to do after a new student joins us is to go on a virtual field trip to their home country to virtually tour the world as a class. It helps connect us and builds valuable and diverse background knowledge.

2. Create Templates for Repetition

Many newcomers spend much of their day just trying to keep their head above water. What did the teacher say? Why is everyone in my class standing up all of a sudden? Where are we going?

Having routines help students that struggle with verbal directions. They see familiar slides and get started immediately thanks to the structure and routine.

Every day, I write three consonants on the board. Students log into a self-paced Nearpod lesson and use the “Collaborate!” feature to list as many English words that begin with each letter sound. Older ELLs enjoy getting to “like” their peers’ posts. Early finishers complete review questions at the end. Using Nearpod to build this routine helps any newcomer feel successful.

Example of a Nearpod Lesson for routine!

3. Show Parents their Child’s Progress

As an ESL teacher, there are times when I am pulled into last minute parent/teacher conferences. Nearpod helps me walk into that meeting confident and prepared. With limited time given to prepare, Nearpod allows me to quickly print out reports. I take them as evidence to show the student’s progress. Even across language barriers, the user-friendly student reports help parents see how their student’s language skills are growing.

4. Use the Nearpod Lesson Library

As the ESL teacher, I work with newcomers across grade levels. This means that I need resources to support many different lessons. Nearpod makes that easier. The Nearpod Lesson Library has an extensive collection of high-quality, ready to use lessons. I can use them as is or edit a few slides to suit specific small group needs. This is helpful for those times when I receive an update from a homeroom teacher and need to adapt the lesson quickly.

5. Amplify don’t Simplify with Vocabulary Support:

Reading a lengthy English text aloud isn’t going to help a newcomer magically understand. Nearpod helps break down academic vocabulary. From virtual field trips to engaging visual slides, Nearpod allows me to amplify, not simplify grade-level texts. Instead of giving fifth-grade newcomers a kindergarten passage on the same topic, I will use the same grade-level passage from their teacher. I chunk the text on slides and support each piece with extra visual supports.

What are some ways you use Nearpod to address the diverse needs of your newcomers? If you’re looking to get started, Nearpod has unlocked content from their English Learners supplemental curricula. Try it out below!

Download the Lessons


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